Monday, March 14, 2011

Workshop Skill Level

I was asked this question by a potential student and here was my initial response:

That's a great question. I would say that the average skill level my workshop photographer is somewhere in the intermediate range. I define intermediate as someone who understands "basic lighting". What does this mean? To me this means firstly a basic manipulation of ambient exposure via camera settings. This also means you are comfortable shooting off-camera flash. Those are the only prerequisite skills/experiences that I need you to have so we can build off of that to create greater understanding with shaping your subjects with light.

That being said, if you come with an open-mind and a willingness to learn, you'll gain volumes regardless what skill level you are. The purpose of this workshop is to learn how to assess different scenarios, different wardrobe and create a unique lighting look that tells a "story". We'll use reflectors, scrims, flags as well as 1 and 2 light setups with various modifiers to accent the features on the models.

Upon greater consideration I realized that firstly I was alienating a large segment of the market (that is not yet intermediate) and secondly my answer wasn't entirely true. I have had students come to my workshop without much if any experience with off-camera flash. Though generally the photographers own PocketWizards and strobes themselves, I think that off-camera flash is just a lighting model that isn't dissimilar from anything else that has to do with lighting. If you're comfortable feathering a reflector then you've at least gotten the intent of off-camera flash: Proper lighting is necessary at angles
other than on-axis /on-camera.

That's perhaps the greatest obstacle. If you don't have that realization then it's hard to build those mental models of different light in your mind. But if you have that mental construct, then all that you need to do (at my workshop) is pop on a PocketWizard and pay attention to how the different setups create different effects.

I will show you how to take control of ambient exposure and balance it with strobe under different lighting conditions. This is part of the agenda that everyone will experience regardless of experience.

And I will show you the subtleties using traditional modifiers (but differently) such as reflectors etc. There's simply so much you can do with a reflector and if done properly you can pretty much kiss your strobes goodbye. On location reflectors are for me as important as the strobes.

Lastly, seeing that this workshop will be a smaller and more elite group of photographers, I will really be able to cater to each photographer and each photographer's goals for learning at the workshop.

Hope to see you at the workshop! :)

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